Participation-based festival offers truly intercultural experience

A festival billed as “the world’s most vibrant intercultural exchange of acoustic music, dance, song and ceremony,” returns to Devon this summer

Tribe of Doris, now in its 19th year, takes the form of an intercultural summer school, offering workshops and performances featuring teachers from across the globe.

Taking place from 9-14 August at Black Down Hills, the unique event focuses on sharing and participation, encouraging everyone onsite to consider themselves part of ‘one tribe’ and offering people the chance to learn through music, dance and ceremony.

Over 40 workshops a day in drumming, dance and voice will be intermingled with ‘open mic’ performances, spontaneous jams, fireside ceremonies and gatherings, along with creative youth activities, in addition to a spectacular roster of evening showcase performances.

This year’s special guests include renowned polyphonic singer Anita Deaulne of Zap Mama fame; authentic Moroccan Gnawa trance musicians and dancers, Jil Gnawa; renowned African drum master Seckou Keita from Senegal; African dance and drum legend Nii Tagoe from Baka Beyond; Flamenco dance sensation Felipe Algeciras, and celebrated Sufi Whirling pioneer Sheikh Ahmad Dede.

“What’s so magical about Doris is its amazing cultural diversity,” says Siobhan Kierans, one of the festival’s founders. “People say they feel at home here, no matter what their cultural roots. The act of learning and sharing through music, dance and ceremony creates a feeling of belonging that you don’t get from passively consuming other cultures at most world music events.”

Workshop highlights from South American countries will include Flamenco dance and song, samba reggae, Brazilian drumming and dance, Toltec shamanism and Orisha song. Meanwhile from the Middle East there will be sufi whirling, tribal belly dance, Egyptian stick dancing, Klezmer dance and Jewish singing. From Africa, the festival will offer drumming and dance, while other highlights include English folk singing and Tibetan and Indian music.

A special feature this year will be the Mexican shaman Itzcoatl Papalotzin, best known in Europe as Agustin, who will conduct shamanic ceremonies and rituals, give shamanism workshops and teach empowering physical movements and breathing exercises derived from Carlos Castaneda’s Tensegrity teachings.

Workshops cater for all levels of experience, from beginners to advanced students. For those that want to relax and feel revived there is a wellbeing zone offering yoga, tai chi, other movement classes and a sauna. The youth area includes activities such as theatre, circus skills, metal work, trampolining, hip hop, poetry and digital recording.

The festival’s climax is a spectacular showcase on the Saturday night, when the many workshop groups come together to present what they have learned in a series of vibrant performances.

“Doris creates peace and happiness by communing through music, dance and song,” declared veteran African drummer and Doris elder Adesose Wallace winding up last year’s Sunday morning closing ceremony. “This is the future, one tribe.”